On March 15, the North Branch American Legion served its annual corned beef and cabbage dinner in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
More than 130 pounds of corned beef, along with the cabbage, potatoes and sliced carrots, were prepared all day by volunteers at the Legion to meet the needs of the North Branch community. After the morning preparations, two chefs stayed for the rest of the day to monitor the kitchen as the meal was prepared.
“This started out to be a fundraiser, and now it has become a tradition since the early 1980s,” said chief chef Kevan Swensen. Proceeds help fund Legion programs, but the goal is to serve the public.
Co-chef Jim Klund, who has been involved with the dinner for about eight years, said the event functions like a finely tuned machine. Three people are all that’s needed in the kitchen, he said. The chores are divided sufficiently, too, and each worker knows what to expect. While Marv Zak cut the meat and did other kitchen chores, other members and non-Legion members volunteered to help set up and serve.
Some community members said the dinner is a long-running tradition for them as much as it is for the American Legion.
“My wife, Shirley, and I come every year, and the food is fabulous,” said John Rindahl, of North Branch.
“Ahh, only 364 days until the (next) corned beef and cabbage dinner,” added another man, sitting back with a cup of coffee.